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The Toronto AIDS Vigil

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 6 months ago

History of the Toronto AIDS Candlelight Vigil


The first Toronto vigil was held in 1985. Organized by the AIDS Committe of Toronto (ACT), it was an intimate and rather small affair: fifty people gathered around a small wading pool at the back of The 519 Church Street Community Centre, in the heart of the gay village. At this event, the lives of the first eighty people known to have died of the HIV/AIDS, were commemorated.


In the late 1980s, the vigil was made a part of AIDS Awareness Week. Eventually, the event was moved from the late fall to its current date, the last Thursday of June, and folded into PrideWeek festivities.


The Toronto AIDS Candelight Vigil is currently an official project of the 519 Church Street Community Centre. It takes place annually at the AIDS Memorial in Cawthra Square Park.


Photos from the Toronto AIDS Candlelight Vigil by Dominic Chan.



The AIDS Memorial, Cawthra Square Park


The AIDS Memorial at Cawthra Square Park was born in the mind of activist, teacher, and poet Michael Lynch who passed away in 1991, a victim of the HIV/AIDS virus. His poem "Cry" graces the pillar that marks the entrance to the memorial's rising, curved walkway.


The memorial features a series of stainless steel plaques set into concrete pillars and surrounded by a landscaped garden designed by Alex Wilson. It wraps around a triangular podium, which serves as the stage for the annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil, and on other days as a place for people to relax and stroll. The memorial was designed by Patrick Fahn and opened in June 1993.


Today, the AIDS Memorial displays the names of over 2,500 individuals who have died of HIV/AIDS.



Toronto AIDS Vigil Coverage



Torontoist: photoTO

YouTube: Toronto AIDS Vigil - Members of SPLASH from the Etobicoke School of the Arts perform a medley from "Rent"

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